Jun 07, 2023, 05:55AM

Slow Fade to Dark

Do not, I repeat, do not run to the nearest emergency exit.

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Do another take, caught in darkness, eating popcorn while spaced out. Blink. Hypnotized, watching cartoons before the double-feature. Mesmerized. Shovel in the grease. Chew. The salty kernels of thoughts mixed with a jumbo box of buttery popcorn. Chew some more. Blink. Dry cotton mouth needs water. Even salted lips are parched. Hard swallow. Water’s all that matters. Still in the embryonic stages of development, as another story unfolds, the credits roll vertically challenged, scrolling down memory lane's big screen. Names of characters appear from a list in a lifetime fictional series. To go off the script of every season, more episodes turning. Mostly unknown producers of original storylines in real-time delays. Can’t wait until the end. Snippets of life’s ribbons litter the cutting room floor. A cut-and-paste of imagination’s images. Wish you could edit the regrets and delete all mistakes.

Boom! Boom! Out go the lights. If you could, please bring down the stage spots. Up full with the house lights, brighten the darkest theater. The sun kisses the moon. A brief announcement, ladies and gentlemen, it’s intermission. There’s plenty of time. Especially if you’re in need of a bathroom or haircut. What’s the meaning of this? Why are the lights flashing?  Is it a signal? Please don’t leave any personal belongings or valuables in your seats. Everybody out. Please! Every single audience member, please exit slowly, form a line. Thank you.

Do not, I repeat, do not run to the nearest emergency exit. Do not push or shove the person in front of you or jump ahead in line. Follow the yellow lines on your right to the restrooms. Follow red lines to the refreshment's kiosk mini bar. Look for green arrows to all emergency exits, proceed with caution. It’s easy to spot the insincere angelic knock-offs of ethereal beauty in such lofty air. Because they’re wearing a thin white cotton sheet over their head, they think it makes them some sort of ghostly apparition. Not scary, just menacing. It's a low-budget production company without any costumes. Burning large crosses on the front lawn of your home. The show’s about to start again. Is there a doctor in the house?

There are no winners in this game. It’s always fixed, the menu never changes. Low and slow. A smoked perfection of meaty goodness. You may think you got away clean. Cutting it close to the bone. Cracking the case to get to the marrow. That’s always the tenderest meat of the matter. But you know what the score is. Somebody gets knocked off, out of the script. There’s always blood and guts. Nobody gets out still breathing. House rules. You may go quietly and peaceful to your cars. Parking in your own bed or kicking and screaming all the way down the slide in the burning parking lot. Straight through to hell’s gates. A suicidal mania spiraling like a kamikaze. All bets are off. The show opened and closed the same night. 

This isn’t a test. Proceed to the nearest fallout shelter. This isn’t a fire drill. This isn’t a practice run. No dress rehearsal required for on-the-job training experience. You memorize your lines in a foreign language no one understands. Some made up gibberish sounds about right. Learning how to deliver words in a native tongue. It’s a new production of an old book called, How to Speak the Word in Today’s World. It’s a tough read. Read between the lines, all the characters made their own way through the story, taking different directions, talking dialogue all at once. Arrive at the same conclusions to follow different destinations. The show bombed, a fate worse than death.

Think of yourself as dead. It’ll help ease the storylines. Live life to the fullest and piss away what’s left. My lazy, carefree role is only exceeded by my extreme highs and lows of energy wasted. No expectations. Just apathetic people doing repetitions. You’re a rank stranger in your own movie. Get out the stage hook and yank that yahoo off the mark. Man-made monster movies. But it’s all yours. It’s all you got. Make the best of it and move on. The usher stalks the aisles with his flashlight. The end of your movie is forgotten, but never fades away.


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